Yesterday we met a second time for the game of Urban Shadows I’m starting up. Last time the world-building felt incomplete to me, but this time we picked up where we left off and now our game is dripping with hooks and ready to go.
The major approach I took was a bit different than when I ran this session for Apocalypse World. As Urban Shadows has four “factions” which all of the character playbooks fit into, I went through all of them, and asked questions about all of the groups assumed to exist from the mechanics. So while there were no vampire or faerie characters, as an example, the players had ideas about how both could fit into the world we were setting up.
One of the great things that I’ve always loved about setting games in real locations is how much real knowledge about the location informs play. We’re setting our game in Boston, so there were discussions about Boston-specific things, whether it was which local parks the werewolves hung out in, whether there was a Watcher’s Society based at Harvard (since Ivy League schools were noted as a source of them in the book), and even if the Greater Boston self-discrimination of “north of the river” and “south of the river” had a supernatural origin. By the end, the version of Boston we had come up with felt alive and positively dripping with conflict.
Now that we’ve completed the world-building section of this game, I’m more confident that lightning has struck twice in terms of the establishment that Apocalypse World derived games give at the beginning. I have several pages of notes that I now need to turn into our game, which I’m pretty sure is going to be a blast.